After Roe v. Wade
The 1972 judgment of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade is seen as the main decision on abortion laws in the United States. The Supreme Court held that a woman can terminate the pregnancy up to 12 weeks using abortion but post 12 weeks; the state has a greater interest in regulating the right to privacy. Many states soon liberalized their abortion laws after this landmark judgment but the issue of abortion continued to remain a highly emotive and volatile issue in the United States. The anti abortion groups including the Catholic Church became more vocal in their opposition. President Ronald Regan tried to get the Supreme Court to reverse its judgment in Roe v. Wade. The anti abortion groups believed that abortion causes pain to the fetus that the right of the fetus to survive is not outweighed by the rights of a pregnant woman.
The anti abortion groups also called the pro-life groups lobbied hard to reduce access to abortions or to completely ban abortions in the United States. They sponsored laws in an attempt to unsuccessfully reverse the judgement through constitutional amendment. Some groups went to the extent of protecting outside abortion clinics and tried to persuade patients from undergoing the procedure. Some extreme groups even resorted to violence forcing some clinics to close down.
The government eliminated the use of public funding for abortions. In most states state funds can be used for abortion only under limited circumstances such as when the procedure is required to save the life of the mother or when the fetus is a result of incest or rape. Until President Bill Clinton revered the federal regulations that disallowed the staff of clinics receiving public funding from informing women about abortion, there was a gag rule that prevented them from doing so.
There is also the issue of informed consent and parental consent. Before performing the procedure, the woman must be informed of the risks associated with the procedure and her options including information about government aid for carrying the pregnancy. In most states a minor woman must have the consent of at least one parent. In some states the consent of both parents are required. Some states require one or both parents to be notified. A few states require parental consent as well as notification. The Supreme Court has held that a minor can obtain permission from a judge instead of her parent(s) but the judge must consider the best interest of the minor and the age/maturity of the minor before granting consent.
Abortion law continue to evolve as the two groups – the ones supporting abortion and the ones opposing abortion continue to battle it out. The issues remain a controversial one that has deeply divided the American society.